What are high schools doing to help athletes who suffer concussions?

By A.J. Giardina – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With the start of the 2010 high school football season, some young men are going to take a blow, bump or jolt to the head. Coaches and players call those hits, "getting your bell rung." However what might be considered a mild blow to the head can be serious.

Scott Belham is a certified athletic trainer for the Gulfport School District. He says the incidence of concussion in sports is recorded every five years. Belham says concussions have been on the rise.

Belham said, " The last period was 9, until this most recent five year period to 18 concussions per year and so that was one of the things that prompted the new guidelines as well as some of the new testing. Research has shown that concussion symptoms and the side affects of concussion can be long term."

Belham says if your son or daughter takes a hit to head, coaches and parents should look for these signs:

The person appears dazed or stunned.....forgets an instruction, answers questions slowly, loses consciousness, shows mood, behavior or personality changes, can't recall events prior to the hit or after the hit.

Concussion symptoms include: Headache or pressure in the head, Nausea or vomiting, dizziness, Feeling sluggish, or Double or blurry vision.

"One of the new parts of that guideline is that we understand the physical rest is necessary but also the cognitive rest to a point that the physician may actually have the child stay out of school or only go half days. Maybe not take high stakes testing because that increases the strain on their cognitive skills," Belham explained.

If an athlete sustains a concussion he or she, under the new guidelines the person must sit out of competition at least 7 to 10 days. Belham says young athletes are more prone to concussions and actually take longer to recover. He says once they score well on a four step process, the doctor can release them and get them back into competition.

One of the surprising outcomes of the research has shown that girls basketball and girls soccer have had the highest increases in concussions.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.